September 25, 2023

Heartbeat Protection Bills Have More Momentum Than EVER – But How Can THE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES Get Them Over the Finish Line?


Former President Donald Trump’s comments last week about heartbeat protection bills being a “mistake” opened the floodgates on discourse around heartbeat legislation and abortion limits. Students for Life Action’s (SFLAction) open letter to Trump was also a topic of much conversation. But it didn’t stop there SFLAction has stayed busy, calling for the Republican candidates for President to step up and prove they are the pro-life champions they claim to be.  

The truth is that all this activity the week before a Presidential debate is very good for the issue of protecting life. The renewed debate and discussion around heartbeat protection legislation legitimizes what should be the MINIMUM standard for any Republican nominee for President. As it stands, the Republican Party is already full of disappointing cowards who flake on pro-life policies when it matters – we don’t need any more worthless symbolic votes or talks about consensus on arbitrary gestational timelines.  

The GOP doesn’t have to be afraid of this issue – as conservative commentator Matt Walsh rightly said on his Twitter in response to Trump:  

“There is nothing terrible about stopping the satanic abortion industry from mass murdering human children. Also, stupid politically. There is no compromise on abortion that everyone will like. It’s delusional to think otherwise. And contrary to Trump’s claims, almost all Democrats are indeed extreme on this issue. You will be hard pressed to find more than maybe two or three on the national stage who don’t want abortion until birth or beyond. You can’t win over Democrats by going squishy on this issue. Republicans have tried that brilliant strategy for decades and accomplished exactly nothing by it.” 

The GOP gains nothing by being weak or “moderate” on this issue – there is no ethical moderate position on terminating an innocent life. The only way forward for the Republican Party is through – and it’s worth discussing how the GOP can speak about protecting life without apology as a winning issue.  

Explain: A Universal Sign of Life

Like all good policies, it starts with messaging – and oftentimes, simplicity is often the best way to explain an issue. This is where the argument for heartbeat protections, as a minimum standard, are so effective.  

What would happen if you asked someone “when is a person dead?” Likely, they would reply, “When there’s no heartbeat.” Inversely, following the same logic, a person is alive when there’s a heartbeat. Simple, elegant, and straight to the point – and it’s a milestone of human development that shows strong support across the political spectrum, according to a 2019 poll by The Hill.  

In a separate 2023YouGov-Vinea poll by the Students for Life of America Demetree Institute for Pro-Life Advancement, Gen Z and Millennials were asked when they thought a baby’s life deserved legal protection, and the second highest response was when a heartbeat can be detected. 

In short, keep it simple, stupid. 


Campaign: Running Fearlessly on Life 

It’s not enough to explain the issue – you need to own it. We’ve heard time and time again that running on life is an “election loser” from Republican moderates. One only need look at the example of Ron DeSantis in Florida to see that running on being unapologetically pro-life can not only win elections but seriously turn out the base.  

Consider that in April 2022, Governor DeSantis signed a 15-week abortion limit into law in the state of Florida, which overrode the previous law of 24 weeks. At the time he said: 

“House Bill 5 protects babies in the womb who have beating hearts, who can move, who can taste, who can see, and who can feel pain. Life is a sacred gift worthy of our protection, and I am proud to sign this great piece of legislation which represents the most significant protections for life in the state’s modern history.” 

He won the gubernatorial office in a 20-point landslide five months later. Since then, he’s signed SB 300, the Heartbeat Protection Act, which “prohibits abortions once the unborn child has a detectable heartbeat.”  

Another thing to consider is that abortion extremists have made it clear they’re going for broke and that they don’t care about limits anymore. The Biden Administration has likewise demonstrated this through the Women’s Health Protection Act which would allow abortions to be committed up until birth nationwide, without any ability for the states to push back, demanding taxpayer funding, and trampling on the conscience rights of medical professionals.  

The GOP would be fools to play the game by any other rules – if abortion extremists want to take a “hard turn” on their issue all the way, then so should the Republican Party. The base needs a reason to show up on election day – and voter turnout wins elections for the GOP.   


Implement: Following Through 

The blueprint for the successful implementation of heartbeat policies already exists in several states, including Iowa, Texas, and Florida. Thanks to work undertaken by pro-life groups like SFLAction, half of all states now have laws on the books to protect preborn life, from as early as conception to as late as 12 weeks (about three months). The progress on this issue since the reversal of Roe has been rapid. Momentum is on the side of earlier limits – and there’s no reason to take our foot off the gas.  

Strong leadership gets protections in place to protect the preborn – not deals built on bad compromise with the profit-driven abortion industry. As we’ve said many times before – you cannot compromise on an issue where there is no middle ground.  


To read about our recent challenge to the candidates running for President to sign our PROTECTING HEARTBEATS PLEDGE, click HERE.